Assumptions

The annual meeting of the International Coach Federation is a great time to connect with my colleagues from around the world and spend time with friends who I respect so much that I’m always pleasantly amazed and grateful that I can contribute to them!

One of these colleagues is a coach I admire tremendously who has pioneered the field of shadow coaching. She dropped a sentence that really caught my imagination: “If you make decisions based on your assumptions, they will come true.” As we head off to the holidays to spend time with family and friends – the people in our lives we may be carrying powerful assumptions about – I wonder how our decisions and interactions could be different if we engaged the key people in our lives with fresh eyes and no assumptions. And of course what it would require of us to relinquish our safe and well-developed assumptions in the first place.

If this sounds interesting, here’s an approach you could take:

1. Start with one person who is important to you, and the relationship with them that you would like to improve.
2. Take a few moments to observe the assumptions you have about her (i.e. “my sister always takes my stuff” – well, maybe in high school, but now she’s 43…). Write these down.
3. Consider what it will take of you to let go of these assumptions, and stop collecting evidence to prove your assumptions right. Write these down too.
4. Choose to give up your assumptions for the time being, say for one holiday or maybe the duration of the holiday season, and observe your thinking for old assumptions cropping up.
5. Approach this person with a beginner’s mind, enjoy yourself and feel the difference that can show up in your body as well, relaxed shoulders, feeling calmer and more centered.

And once you’ve given this a test drive in the personal realm, you can take it on the road at work. Imagine what letting go of your assumptions can create for your professional relationships as well.